How to Increase Mobility in Older Adults

senior woman walking her dog

The average life expectancy in the United States 78 years old. According to the Social Security Administration, one in four adults aged 65 today will live past the age of 90 and one in ten will live past age 95. The average national retirement age is in the 62 – 65 year-old-range. As a result, many American men and women live for several decades after leaving the workforce.

Retirement brings great opportunities; mobility is a key factor toward pursuing them.

For many older adults and seniors, retirement is the time to travel, take on new hobbies and interests, or tackle old projects, like buying a new house or renovating an old one. For others, physical disabilities, injuries, or limitations can make it difficult to stay active and mobile. In addition to affecting your own or a loved one’s physical abilities, mobility issues can also impact mental and emotional health and quality of life. Finding the right combination of exercise and lifestyle modifications can help seniors increase mobility and socially engaged with their friends and loved ones.

How Mobility Affects Senior Health and Quality of Life

Losing the ability to move safely inside and outside the home is one of the most common fears for seniors. Along with limiting the ability to exercise, physical limitations can make it difficult for seniors to go about their daily activities, go to the doctor, and socialize outside the home.

But physical fitness and exercise can present something of a catch 22 for seniors. While it is true that the natural aging process can make seniors more prone to injuries and joint problems like arthritis, avoiding physical activity altogether also comes along with its own set of physical and mental health risks like obesity, heart disease, and depression.

How to Sustain and Improve Mobility for Older Adults and Seniors

Getting older does not necessarily mean that you or your loved ones have to give up beloved physical activities. Even if playing competitive soccer or hitting the tennis court four times a week is no longer safe or feasible, exercise and mobility are just as important for seniors later in life.

Try to find modifications or alternatives to physical activities that may no longer be appropriate or safe. Activities that incorporate balance and coordination, stretching, strength training, and cardio are especially important for older adults. Safe and effective stretching exercises are especially beneficial for older adults and seniors to improve flexibility and help with balance and coordination. by focusing on crucial areas such as:

Focus your stretching on:

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Biceps/upper arms
  • Hips
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Ankles

Best Exercises for Seniors

Before starting any physical fitness routine, consult with a physician first to make sure that the activity is safe. Even a walk around the neighborhood can be deceptively challenging. To prevent injuries and maximize physical benefits, make sure to properly warm up and stretch beforehand. It is also important to wear appropriate shoes with adequate support and comfortable, properly fitting clothing.

Low impact activities are high in health benefits with low risk of injury for seniors with mobility issues. Some of the safest (and fun!) exercises for seniors and older adults include:

  • Walking/hiking
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Light jogging

In addition to movement, mental and emotional state can also affect a senior’s motivation to exercise and stay social. Stress, depression, and anxiety can lead to isolation, which is a growing problem for seniors in particular.

Relaxation exercises, practices like meditation, and mental health resources are also an important part of a comprehensive wellness plan for seniors and older homebound adults at risk for mobility problems and physical ailments.

Assisted Living and Active Retirement Communities for Seniors

As important as physical activity is for seniors, safe and functional mobility involves more than the ability to exercise. When living alone or staying at home is no longer an option for a senior, an assisted living or active retirement community can offer all of the benefits of living independently with the additional resources and support necessary to safely move around and stay active without risking serious injury or social isolation.

Benefits of Assisted Living and Active Retirement

The main goal for most people is to remain as healthy and independent as possible for as long as possible. Although there are many misconceptions about assisted living communities, the biggest one might be that they limit a senior’s freedom and independence. The built-in support system and community are often an improvement over living at home.

Keep in mind that physical abilities and needs naturally fluctuate and change over time. Don’t ignore pain and discuss any symptoms or changes with a physician or medical professional to prevent injuries and find appropriate physical activities at every age.

The Willows Independent Living Communities

Open up a world of opportunities! You’ll find a style and pace that lets you be yourself, and the freedom to do as much – or as little – as you’d like.